The secret to recruiting and retaining staff

Expert Opinion
The secret to recruiting and retaining staff

From recruitment through to retention, Helen Fairclough of Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre describes how her venue engages employees.

 

At Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), our diverse and inclusive culture is something we pride ourselves on, and it is key to our recognition as an Employer of Choice for two years running (2017-18).

This accolade is testament to our people, who work hard every day. We are just one of only six organisations worldwide to be recognised for outstanding achievement in recruitment, engagement and retention practices.

Our working environment is defined by a commitment to shared learning and continuous improvement, and we invest in our talent and encourage them to be innovative.

In 2016, we engaged with our employees across our casual and permanent workforce to determine our employee value proposition (EVP). We think of our EVP as the promise we make to our people. Through a series of focus groups, we looked at the value our employees placed on a range of offerings at MCEC, why they were attracted to work for us initially, and what keeps them engaged with our brand.

From these discussions, our EVP was born – ‘expect anything, experience everything’. Just like every event, every day at MCEC is different. Once we knew our EVP we could build our talent acquisition strategy, focusing on sourcing, recruitment and selection.

The strategy includes educating managers on unconscious bias, and the importance of attracting the best and brightest employees who form part of a diverse, inclusive and collaborative culture.

We also focus on upskilling and progressing our employee’s career development, with a preference to promote from within. This has led to over half our positions being filled with internal applicants. We offer ‘temporary transfers’ across our business, opening opportunities for employees to work across different areas, allowing them to develop skills and enhance their professional growth.

One of the most important ways to retain talent is through employee engagement and recognition. Effective communication is a strong focus throughout the stages of the employee journey, and we encourage continuous feedback, ensuring employees are supported and valued. Senior leaders actively engage with and mentor employees – it’s important for leaders to provide an environment where employees are encouraged to take risks, learn from colleagues and collaborate.

Employees participate in reward and recognition activities. Recent examples being a ‘Thank You’ event and ‘Shout Outs’ in our weekly employee newsletter. We strongly believe recognising and rewarding performance motivates employees to want to be part of the company.

We also recognise our employees’ desire to be involved and connected with their community and global issues, including sustainability, volunteering and wellbeing. An Employee Health and Wellbeing Committee organises a calendar of activities including massages, workout sessions and yoga.

Our employees are supported by processes to help them achieve. This starts with on-boarding, which includes regular check-ins and objective setting and continues with our annual review process MAP (meet, align, perform).

We learnt our employees value a ‘personalised’ approach to their MCEC experience: How they work, when they work and their benefits. So, we introduced flexible working, opt-in and out benefits, and performance-related pay.

Our EVP is evolving as our business, people and culture have shifted and grown. We need to ensure we’re aware of the brand we have, the brand we aspire to, and how we leverage that to attract key talent both locally and internally to work at MCEC.

Stuart Wood is a news reporter across the Mash Media editorial portfolio. He writes for CMW alongside sister publications Conference News, Exhibition News, Access All Areas and Exhibition World.